The Robertson. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

The Robertson: tangerine juice and vodka. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

It’s winter, which means citrus season approaches, one of the few bright spots in the otherwise endless gray of a Cleveland winter. Donna brought home some oranges with beautiful deep, deep orange-colored flesh. I’d needed them for a duck recipe I was developing. I asked her to get more next time, planning a Screwdriver post and a celebration of citrus. She returned with thick-skinned, stupid old navels, probably from last year. “Sorry,” she said. “That was all they had.” But she did pick up some tangerines because she thought they looked cool.

Aha! I’d made a vodka–tangerine juice before and loved it. A helpful check on Twitter found no proper name for this very sunny elixir. It is sunny—sunny in the mouth. It made Donna smile and say, “Mmmmm! It feels healthy!”

So, to brighten this wintry Friday, may I introduce The Robertson, equal parts vodka and tangerine juice, garnished with a wedge of lime. Feel free to increase the juice as desired but not too much. My tangerines each gave me 1/2 cup, just. The juice is intensely flavored and sweet, and is nicely balanced with the neutral spirit and the bite of the lime.

When I asked on Twitter, several people suggested calling it a Phillips Head. Good, but a little cute. And another suggestion, Socket Wrench, was too heavy-handed. (No one made any Greyhound—vodka with grapefruit—or Cape Codder—vodka with cranberry—associations.) But a different juice demands a different name. And as it is so close to a screwdriver, I’ll keep that association, without being overly obvious, by suggesting it be named after P. L. Robertson, the Canadian who invented and patented the screwdriver with a square tip. The name also keeps the pretty, fruit-juice cocktail somewhat manly sounding. It’s really hard for a dude to sidle up to a bar and say, “I’ll have a Pink Lady.” Even though that’s a great drink. So The Robertson it is.

Happy Friday to all!

The Robertson

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces tangerine juice
  • Wedge of lime
  1. Combine fluids in a double old fashioned. Add ice and a squeeze of lime.

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


6 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: The Robertson”

  • Allen

    If you hum the words to “Strangers In The Night”, and, like me you don’t know all the words, eventually you end up singing the words; Scooby Doobie Doo…
    That is in honor of the Pot Bowl – a big fat doobie goddamit!
    Go Hawks!!!

  • Emmy

    Well, now I’m going to make this because I’m a Robertson, and I love me some tangerines. Also! Funny story true story, I spent some time in my youth working with a volunteer organization to build an amphitheater for a YMCA summer camp. This involved a lot of post hole digging. Like, a truly terrifying amount. Sometime around hole #38, I was joking that the tools we used needed cooler names (like the McCloud, a way funner tool), and thus the post-hole digger was renamed The Robertson. So in my house this drink is now in honor of me, and my slightly larger (hehehe) tool.

    • Emmy

      Whoops, the tool is named McLeod. Trust google over your adolescent memory always.

  • Laura

    When I tell people that I am from Cleveland & that my love for her is ever lasting you are one of my talking points (along with the Cleveland Museum of Art & Vitamix) when trying to convince them to stop rolling their eyes. You have always been very effective when the face off gets unpleasant.

    This, as always, was a delicious cocktail (I am aware that saying that, with you just posting this at 1:15pm does not paint me in the best light).